Monday, October 05, 2009

Cuts, Cuts and more cuts, could be the preamble to the HST introduction

"We ran out of money about $2.8 billion dollars ago, We have no choice but to take a close and hard look at both our health and education services in the months and years to come,”-- Part of Premier Gordon Campbell's address to the UBCM convention on Friday

The gathering of the province's political class has come and gone for another year, but if anyone was listening on Friday, the early warnings of tougher times was clearly there to be heard. The Tyee seems to have best captured his sense of urgency on the state of the provinces finances, with their dispatch from the convention of Friday.

As part of his address to the UBCM, the Premier offered up a glimpse of what may come, with the thought that the current spending on health is not sustainable and will need to be addressed, seeking to gain better value for those health care dollars.

The same was suggested for education, where he floated the idea of restoring taxing authority to school boards (be careful as to what ye wish for) and having the responsibility of the providing of services to be shared.

In what seems to have been a strategy to impress upon the municipalities of the need to implement the HST program (Hello there Prince Rupert and your recent motion to turn back that tax tide) the Premier outlined how he believes the tax will provide for investment, jobs and prosperity, and with it, we assume the ability to better fund health care and education.

The anti HST motion provided by the City of Vancouver, passed, but not with as unanimous a groundswell as one would have thought, (185 delegates voted in favour and 154 voted against the resolution, though it was a small turnout at the voting lines as more than 1,000 delegates attended the conference, over 661 of whom clearly had no interest in offering an opinion on that motion).
Regardless the HST did frame the final public session of the convention, though reading the details of the Premier's address, you can sense that the introduction of the HST seems destined to be intertwined with the changes ahead for both health care and education.

If British Columbians are facing cutbacks in both of the key sectors of provincial government, perhaps the best way for the Premier to introduce the HST is to highlight the impact it could have on restoring some of those funds to both sectors.

In the cupboard is bare scenario that he painted on Friday, the Premier seems to be suggesting that the only way to come close to the current funding initiatives will be through the reconfiguration of the province's tax regimen.

In the end, it would seem that if we want to come close to our current levels of service or even improve upon them, the medicine that the systems need comes in doses of HST.

Whether the patients are inclined to take it though, is something that Dr. Campbell will have to wait and see on.

Vancouver Sun-- Civic leaders welcome Campbell even though he brings few goodies
Globe and Mail-- Little love for Campbell at municipal leaders gathering
Victoria Times Colonist-- Campbell warm, fuzzy and firm on the HST
Canadian Press-- Premier tells B.C. politicians HST will ease health care spending woes

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